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9 Ways To Prevent Burnout

9 Ways To Prevent Burnout


    You would think that avoiding burnout would simply be a matter of not crossing a threshold of fatigue.

    Burnout is not that simple.

    Burnout And Creativity

    Burnout is often work-related because we are increasingly expected to be not only highly creative but also highly productive – like creativity machines.

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    Robert Fritz, author of the bestseller, The Path of Least Resistance, writes that when we are creating there are two parts to the process:

    1. Stretch: which occurs when we work and expand ourselves in the work.
    2. Consolidation: which occurs when we take a step back afterward, rest and assimilate the results of the work.

    Both parts of the process are necessary and support each other. Our fast-paced economic system keeps many of us stuck in the stretch phase of creating. If you are stretching and not consolidating, you are headed for burnout.

    What Is Burnout?

    Burnout is not just an emotional problem. Merriam-Webster  defines burnout as:

    “Exhaustion of physical or emotional strength or motivation usually as a result of prolonged stress or frustration.”

    Burnout usually occurs for one of two reasons:

    1. Lack of rest or rejuvenation (overwork)
    2. Lack of motivation or reward

    Over the past 50 years rest has acquired a bad reputation. You can rest when you are dead is how the thinking goes.

    However, work and rest are two complementary sides of the same cycle and they enhance each other. We know this intuitively because we love getting a good night’s sleep after a day of positive and productive work and love going to work when we feel refreshed and on top of our game. When the cycle is working well we feel positive momentum; when not, we feel drained.

    Burnout can also occur when:

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    1. …the work we are doing work that doesn’t suit our skills or interests.
    2. …we know we are not interested in a particular job or task and force ourselves to do it too often.
    3. …our work environment is fear-based and highly political.
    4. …we have too many emergencies, both at work and at home.
    5. …we are sick or a family member is sick.

    When we are well we can withstand some turbulence in our lives. When rough spots last too long they start to debilitate us. Life is not meant to be a long emergency.

    Assessing Burnout Potential In Your Life

    To assess burnout potential in your life, evaluate each aspect of your life below on a scale of 1-10, with 1 being low in stress and burnout potential and 10 being extreme burnout potential.

    1. Consider your physical condition:
      1. You are strong and have physical reserves, you may have the ability to withstand long-term stressful situations.
      2. Your resilience is lower, you need to be careful about how much stress you tolerate and monitor yourself for physical burnout.
      3. You become fatigued easily.
      4. You are sick or get sick easily.
    2. Consider your work situation:
      1. Are you valued?
      2. Are you doing work you love?
      3. Do you have the skills you need to succeed?
      4. Do you work with people who are good for you?
      5. Is the organization well managed?
      6. Do you have to overwork too much?
      7. Are you compensated well? Are your benefits good?
    3. Consider your relationships:
      1. Start with your family. Is it a warm, loving and supportive family or are you generally frustrated by the unhappiness in your family?
      2. Do you have close supportive friends?
      3. Do you have a community you are a part of?
      4. Are you happy with your social life?
      5. Are your work relationships good?
    4. Consider the time of year:
      1. Are there certain times when you are more overloaded than others and at risk of burnout?
      2. Are there times when the people around you are overloaded and your responsibilities increase as a result?
    5. Consider the totality of your life:
      1. Do you have burnout in some or two area spilling over into others?
      2. Do you see the potential for burnout to develop in an area in the future?
      3. When you look at your burnout assessment how does it look to you? piece of cake? manageable? serious burnout potential?

    There are no right answers and no score to determine your burnout potential. Your assessment is a map of your current situation so that you can easily get a high level view of your current situation.

    With your assessment in hand, it might be useful to consider whether your burnout challenges are people challenges, time management challenges, or a need to develop skills. Sometimes we lack a skill set that could make our life easier, save time and reduce stress.

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    Steps To Prevent Burnout

    There are many things you can do to prevent burnout:

    1. Strengthen your body first. Improve your energy by getting a great night’s sleep, exercising, keeping hydrated and eating well. Detox your body since toxins can build up causing debility over time.
    2. Learn to meditate to relieve stress and help you with emotional balance. It works wonders.
    3. Make a list of all the areas you want to work on and set priorities for them.
    4. Research on the Internet about the issues you want to take on. Do not be afraid to tackle large issues like career choices and family problems.
    5. Do not be afraid to cut back on commitments that are too draining.  Your other commitments will benefit from your improved attention.
    6. Upgrade your skills to keep yourself marketable and functioning well.
    7. For the tasks you hate, you have several options: drop them if they are really unimportant, break them up into small bite size work units so that you only have to so it for a short time, delegate them, or trade your undesired task with someone else’s undesired task.
    8. Determine what is most important to you so that you increase your time spent on your high value activities and therefore increase your satisfaction.
    9. Treat burnout as a life-time concern that you can eliminate but taking good care of your life.

    Everyone’s life matters and everyone deserves to enjoy their life.  Accept the reality of change and plan to be resilient but also make sure you can say no.  You do not have to carry the world on your shoulders.

    When you are proactive, flexible, mindful about commitments and take excellent care of yourself you are doing what is necessary to beat burnout.  Good luck!

    (Photo credit: Burnt Match Between New Matchsticks via Shutterstock)

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    Maria Hill

    Maria Hill is the owner of Sensitive Evolution, an online platform dedicated to improving the lives of highly sensitive people.

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    Last Updated on January 21, 2020

    The Best Way to Create a Vision for the Life You Want

    The Best Way to Create a Vision for the Life You Want

    Creating a vision for your life might seem like a frivolous, fantastical waste of time, but it’s not: creating a compelling vision of the life you want is actually one of the most effective strategies for achieving the life of your dreams. Perhaps the best way to look at the concept of a life vision is as a compass to help guide you to take the best actions and make the right choices that help propel you toward your best life.

    your vision of where or who you want to be is the greatest asset you have

      Why You Need a Vision

      Experts and life success stories support the idea that with a vision in mind, you are more likely to succeed far beyond what you could otherwise achieve without a clear vision. Think of crafting your life vision as mapping a path to your personal and professional dreams. Life satisfaction and personal happiness are within reach. The harsh reality is that if you don’t develop your own vision, you’ll allow other people and circumstances to direct the course of your life.

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      How to Create Your Life Vision

      Don’t expect a clear and well-defined vision overnight—envisioning your life and determining the course you will follow requires time, and reflection. You need to cultivate vision and perspective, and you also need to apply logic and planning for the practical application of your vision. Your best vision blossoms from your dreams, hopes, and aspirations. It will resonate with your values and ideals, and will generate energy and enthusiasm to help strengthen your commitment to explore the possibilities of your life.

      What Do You Want?

      The question sounds deceptively simple, but it’s often the most difficult to answer. Allowing yourself to explore your deepest desires can be very frightening. You may also not think you have the time to consider something as fanciful as what you want out of life, but it’s important to remind yourself that a life of fulfillment does not usually happen by chance, but by design.

      It’s helpful to ask some thought-provoking questions to help you discover the possibilities of what you want out of life. Consider every aspect of your life, personal and professional, tangible and intangible. Contemplate all the important areas, family and friends, career and success, health and quality of life, spiritual connection and personal growth, and don’t forget about fun and enjoyment.

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      Some tips to guide you:

      • Remember to ask why you want certain things
      • Think about what you want, not on what you don’t want.
      • Give yourself permission to dream.
      • Be creative. Consider ideas that you never thought possible.
      • Focus on your wishes, not what others expect of you.

      Some questions to start your exploration:

      • What really matters to you in life? Not what should matter, what does matter.
      • What would you like to have more of in your life?
      • Set aside money for a moment; what do you want in your career?
      • What are your secret passions and dreams?
      • What would bring more joy and happiness into your life?
      • What do you want your relationships to be like?
      • What qualities would you like to develop?
      • What are your values? What issues do you care about?
      • What are your talents? What’s special about you?
      • What would you most like to accomplish?
      • What would legacy would you like to leave behind?

      It may be helpful to write your thoughts down in a journal or creative vision board if you’re the creative type. Add your own questions, and ask others what they want out of life. Relax and make this exercise fun. You may want to set your answers aside for a while and come back to them later to see if any have changed or if you have anything to add.

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      What Would Your Best Life Look Like?

      Describe your ideal life in detail. Allow yourself to dream and imagine, and create a vivid picture. If you can’t visualize a picture, focus on how your best life would feel. If you find it difficult to envision your life 20 or 30 years from now, start with five years—even a few years into the future will give you a place to start. What you see may surprise you. Set aside preconceived notions. This is your chance to dream and fantasize.

      A few prompts to get you started:

      • What will you have accomplished already?
      • How will you feel about yourself?
      • What kind of people are in your life? How do you feel about them?
      • What does your ideal day look like?
      • Where are you? Where do you live? Think specifics, what city, state, or country, type of community, house or an apartment, style and atmosphere.
      • What would you be doing?
      • Are you with another person, a group of people, or are you by yourself?
      • How are you dressed?
      • What’s your state of mind? Happy or sad? Contented or frustrated?
      • What does your physical body look like? How do you feel about that?
      • Does your best life make you smile and make your heart sing? If it doesn’t, dig deeper, dream bigger.

      It’s important to focus on the result, or at least a way-point in your life. Don’t think about the process for getting there yet—that’s the next stepGive yourself permission to revisit this vision every day, even if only for a few minutes. Keep your vision alive and in the front of your mind.

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      Plan Backwards

      It may sound counter-intuitive to plan backwards rather than forwards, but when you’re planning your life from the end result, it’s often more useful to consider the last step and work your way back to the first. This is actually a valuable and practical strategy for making your vision a reality.

      • What’s the last thing that would’ve had to happen to achieve your best life?
      • What’s the most important choice you would’ve had to make?
      • What would you have needed to learn along the way?
      • What important actions would you have had to take?
      • What beliefs would you have needed to change?
      • What habits or behaviors would you have had to cultivate?
      • What type of support would you have had to enlist?
      • How long will it have taken you to realize your best life?
      • What steps or milestones would you have needed to reach along the way?

      Now it’s time to think about your first step, and the next step after that. Ponder the gap between where you are now and where you want to be in the future. It may seem impossible, but it’s quite achievable if you take it step-by-step.

      It’s important to revisit this vision from time to time. Don’t be surprised if your answers to the questions, your technicolor vision, and the resulting plans change. That can actually be a very good thing; as you change in unforeseeable ways, the best life you envision will change as well. For now, it’s important to use the process, create your vision, and take the first step towards making that vision a reality.

      Featured photo credit: Matt Noble via unsplash.com

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